Once you arrive on Guana Cay, you will be met by the caretaker of the cottage you have rented, who will deliver you to your slice of paradise. From there on, you’re on your own, and you’ll probably want to get out and do some exploring. Because the island is so small, there are no rental cars. In fact, there are only a few cars and trucks on the island, all being owned by local residents or businesses. You, the tourist, will need a golf cart and the only place to rent one is from Donna’s Golf Carts. What a fun way to get around! All the rentals are 4-seaters, with the 2 rear seats facing backwards. They have 2 models available, the typical golf cart, and also the ‘off-road’ version with larger tires, and better suspension. Well, at one time it probably had better suspension. You must be 18 to drive them, and they have kindly put a sticker in front of the driver, reminding them to drive on the left side of the road.
Your safest bet is to reserve one from Donna ahead of time. As we were staying right in the settlement, we didn’t want one for the full week, rather only for a couple of day to explore the north end of the island. However, it took several attempts to finally get a cart for a couple of days. In typical Island Time fashion, sometimes the renters returned them when expected, sometimes not, and the rules & communication can be a little lax. In fact, one day, one of Donna’s staff delivered the cart to our cottage, but told us we needed to go back to the office to pay. We weren’t ready, so he drove the cart back, and we followed about half an hour later. Once we got there, Donna told us we couldn’t have the cart, as she needed it for the electric company who was visiting later that morning. So, if you know you want one, reserve it in advance.
Daily rates are $40 & $50, weekly $240 & $300 for the regular and 'off-road' models respectively.
There are as many ways to get to Abaco as there are Bahamian cays. As we were travelling with our children, we decided to use one of the larger carriers, rather than the many little ‘puddle jumpers’, which fly over on a regular basis. There was no analytical basis for this, no high level scientific study; I’m just losing some of my ‘caution to the wind’ attitude, especially where the kids are involved.
From Lauderdale, we caught an early morning flight over to Abaco on a Beech 1900. I love those little 19 seaters – everybody except 1 gets a window seat, and on a plane that size, there’s no flight crew, other than the co-pilot and pilot, who greeted us as we boarded – a nice touch. We were seated at the back, directly in front of the cargo hold, and it was reassuring to see the pilot back there, checking the quantity and positioning of the baggage. Until he said the dreaded words – we’ve got too much, take 2 bags off. So off cam 2 of our bags, plus our 2 beach umbrellas which had already missed the cut.
The flight was slightly bumpy, but it’s all part of the adventure, right! The kids loved it, smiling broadly every time the plane dropped. On arrival in Marsh Harbour, the pilot allowed my youngest to sit in the drivers seat so my husband could videotape him – until the immigration lady yelled at him to move everybody along. We explained our baggage situation on arrival, and to make a very long story short, 2 bags arrived later that day, and the umbrellas 3 days later.
Leaving was another story, as it was the day Hurricane Dennis was passing south of Florida. The Ft. Lauderdale airport was closed in the morning, so although our flight left on time, we had to circle about 25 minutes prior to landing. Circle, in thunderstorms. And very windy conditions. In a tiny 19 seater. Of course, they kids were still having a blast, and I had the perma-grin on my face (can’t show fear), but I was extremely glad to be back on the ground! All things considered, I was very glad I was on that 19 seater, and not a little Cessna!
Do you like the feel of the open road? Love to feel the wind in your hair? Then perhaps this is your way to go - rent a bike!
Faster than walking, and much more quiet than golf carts, bicycles are a great way to get around Guana Cay and see the sights. Typical of island style, these bikes only have 1 gear and are reminiscent of days gone by, but they do the trick.
They are available to rent from Dive Guana for $12 per day.
Unless you decide to rent a boat, or arrive by one, there’s only 1 way to get around from Cay to Cay. Albury'’s Ferry. From their ‘hub’ in Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco island (where the airport is located), they travel to and from the various cays several times each day.
The company was founded in 1959, and is still owned and operated by the Albury family. They run a fleet of 10 "Donnies", wide body fiberglass diesel powered boats built to Albury's Ferry specifications in Florida.
The ferry ride itself is fun, especially for first timers, but out in the Sea of Abaco, it can get pretty choppy at times, as we found out the day we left. Although the ferries are all partially enclosed, try to make sure your bags are inside, away from the spray. If the weather is nice, and it’s not too bumpy, you can sit on the back deck, and enjoy the breeze and the beautiful scenery.
The ride over to Guana Cay took around half an hour, and the ferries leave the Marsh Harbour dock at 6:45 and 10:30 in the morning, and at 1:30, 3:30 and 5:45 in the afternoon. Rates at July 2005 were $15 one way or $20 return same day for adults, with a 50% discount for kids 11 & under. Children under 6 are free.
Albury’s also offer a Charter service if the existing schedule doesn’t meet your needs (or if you miss the last ferry!); their prices vary and can be found on their website.